The Green Bay Packers have already lost cornerback Devon House to a big money contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars (showing why the Jaguars are the Jaguars). The physical cornerback would have been a candidate to replace fellow free agent Tramon Williams if/when he left.
Williams, the Packers starter and best cover corner, supposedly rejected the Packers offer of a two year contract with compensation rumored to be $4M/year.
Tramon made one visit so far to the New Orleans Saints, but left without an offer. Later, the Saints announced that they had reached agreement with former Patriots corner Brandon Browner which may mean Williams will not receive an offer from the Saints.
Yet other suitors remain for the talented Packers cornerback.
Fellow starter Sam Shields had an inconsistent 2014 season.
So can the Packers afford to let Williams walk with no proven press corner on the current roster to take his place?
Let’s do a quick comparison of Williams and possible replacements, and disclose why it may indeed be panic time in Green Bay.
32 years old, 5”11”, 181 lbs.
16 game starter for the Packers.
Formerly a non-drafted player from Louisiana Tech.
Last season he totaled 79 tackles, 0 sacks, and 3 interceptions. He allowed 70 receptions for 857 yards, and opposing quarterbacks completed 63.6% of all passes thrown his way.
Per Pro Football Focus his overall cornerback rating was +1.2, and pass coverage was +1.7.
CBS Sports rated Williams as the 59th rated free agent regardless of position.
The Packers have said that they value Williams and want him back. Given his age he will only return on their terms.
The best of the remaining options should Williams find a new home in 2015 are reviewed below.
Chris Culliver (Editor’s NOTE: An hour after this post was published, Culliver signed 4yr deal with Washington.)
6’ 0”, 199 lbs. 26 years old.
Starting cornerback formerly of San Francisco 49’ers.
A former third round pick out of South Carolina.
Last season he allowed only 37 catches on 73 passes thrown his way for 468 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions.
Culliver started every game for the 49’ers last season and according to Pro Football Focus had an overall rating of +8.5, including a +8.2 rating on pass defense.
He tallied 47 total tackles and was only credited with 4 missed tackles.
The San Francisco 49’ers are seemingly blowing up the entire franchise and on the outside looking in is one if not the best remaining cornerbacks on the free agent market. CBS Sports has Culliver rated the 35th overall best free agent.
Culliver made news prior to Super Bowl XLVII regarding gay players, but has since apologized. He remains one of the few solid young corners on the market and has size and skill set to play man coverage in the Packers 3-4 defense.
6’ 0”, 198 lbs. 28 years old
He started 15 games last year for the San Francisco 49’ers.
Formerly a 5th round draft choice out of Oklahoma State.
He tallied 53 tackles, 0 sacks and 5 interceptions.
He allowed receptions at a 61% clip for 830 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Pro Football Focus overall pass coverage was +1.2,
and pass coverage -0.6.
Cox did not appear on CBS Sports ranking of the top 100 free agents.
It appears that San Francisco is poised to lose both of their starting cornerbacks in free agency and will be looking elsewhere for replacements.
6’ 0” 200 lbs. 28 Years old
Starting cornerback Philadelphia Eagles
A former 3rd round pick out of Iowa.
Last season he tallied 60 tackles, 1 Int, 0 sacks.
Per Pro Football Focus has a rating at a -8.4 overall, -12.7 in pass coverage.
He was thrown at 161 times, and he allowed 53% of those passes to be caught.
CBS Sports has Fletcher rated as the 79th best free agent prospect prior to the start of FA. Said to be tough and physical.
Fletcher was cut by the Eagles along with fellow starting corner back Cary Williams in what is turning out to be a total makeover in Philadelphia. Last year Fletcher was responsible for 1,072 receiving yards, the most of any corner in the NFL. In addition he surrendered 9 TDs which was second-most in the league. He was benched prior to being released by the Eagles.
Third best corner available not including Williams but a big drop-off in talent and production.
The draft-and-develop Packers will surely select a cornerback in the upcoming draft. Yet it would be a huge gamble to rely on that player to step into a starting role. The Packers do have alternatives already on the roster, but none appear to fit the mold of a physical press corner so valuable to a successful Packers 3-4 defense.
The prudent move, in my opinion, is to work out a deal to bring Williams back while a suitable replacement can be groomed to take his place. They are too close to a championship to miss on an important position this late in the game.
Time will tell on this position however; and probably sooner rather than later.——————
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .